Falls Sie Lust haben diesen Artikel fuer
haGalil onLine (ehrenamtlich) zu uebersetzen, melden Sie sich bitte
Islam is the fastest growing religion in the United States and while
the Muslim faith should be better understood by the US, the Arab world
should not judge America through the state of the Middle East peace process,
former US president Bill Clinton said here Monday. Addressing the closing
session of the second US-Islamic Forum, Clinton said that while "those in
the West only see Islam through the spectre of terror," Muslims were basing
their judgment of the United States on its role in finding a solution to the
"Islam is the fastest growing religion in America, we have now six
million plus Muslims in the United States," he said, recalling that hundreds
of Muslims were among the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks. "I
think it is important that the Muslim world try to understand the United
States... our country is judged by many Muslims based on how they think the
Middle East peace process is going and whether they think we're doing enough
to give the Palestinians a state and a decent future," said the
"It is not the only standard," said Clinton who presided over the failed
Israeli-Palestinian talks at Camp David in 2000, shortly before the outbreak
of the Palestinian intifada or uprising against Israeli occupation.
But the three-day gathering, which grouped top American and Muslim
leaders and thinkers to discuss ways to improve dialogue post 9/11, was
hijacked by the Palestinian-Israeli issue. While debating other
controversial issues, such as Iraq, America's future role in the Gulf and
free trade, open sessions were overrun by the Middle East conflict, which
Muslim participants described as the root of US-Islamic tensions that were
merely exacerbated by the events of September 11.
Some US participants said that while the Arab-Israeli conflict should not
be understated, the forum should emphasise building on issues both sides
have in common, such as education and fighting the scourge of AIDS.
"Serious, good people of goodwill can get a long way just by having honest
conversations," Clinton said, hailing the move to boost dialogue,
particularly in a small, conservative Muslim Gulf state.
Though some emerged from the largely closed-door forum confident that
progress had been made, others were less impressed. "It's useless, because
you can't establish a dialogue between a state and a religion," one Arab
diplomat said, requesting anonymity. Some claimed the gathering was simply
not serious enough, while a Western diplomat said it was no different to the
first one, held here in 2002.
Clinton offered four observations: "We need to do more to understand how
the two major players here understand each other. We need, secondly, to
improve our capacity for self-criticism. "Third, we need to identify our
common interests, and fourth, we need to build the habits of mind and heart
necessary to end the habits of demonising those who are different from us."
But the common ground, though ostensibly in abundance, was harder to see
while the differences were transparent. "Too many Americans know too little
about the Islamic world. And much of what they know, they learned after
September 11 through the narrow lense of terror. It is important but not
sufficient because what people do out of anger, pain and fear both darkens
and distorts reality," said Clinton. "We're human and we don't always know
what the right thing to do is, and if this (Palestinian-Israeli conflict)
were an easy problem someone would have solved it long ago," he added.
Richard Holbrooke, former US ambassador to the United Nations, warned:
"If we can't contain the growing chasm between the West and Arab world, it
will be the underlying structural flaw," in the Arab-Israeli issue and
others just as divisive. Leading Muslim cleric Sheikh Yussef Qaradawi said
he remained "optimistic" the two sides "might find ourselves closer to each
other. The good intentions will open the road to understanding."
But he, and other Muslims in attendance, maintained that Washington's
"extreme bias" in favour of Israel "poisons" US-Muslim relations.
The response? America will not and can not compromise where support for
Israel is concerned. "We can find common interests," Clinton said. "But we
will all fail unless we believe our common humanity is more important than
our hatred and differences."